Anybody that has looked in the Games section in a bookshop will have seen this work. Originally published by the OUP in two volumes, Board And Table Games 1 (1960), Board And Table Games 2 (1969), the revised edition in 1979 brought both books together.
Robert Bell wrote the definitive scholastic text on pretty much every ancient abstract board, tile, race and dice game you've heard of, and more you never knew about. With simple illustrations and some b&w photos, the rules and history of each game is quickly and briefly studied. There are even biographies of noted gamers, such as Hoyle.
This is an academic work, for students not children, but even dipping into it will bring great pleasure to any gamer. And Bell constantly encourages the reader to make and play the games shown.